In 2014, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine that culminated in the occupation of the Crimea peninsula in the south. Later that year, Russia deployed hybrid tactics, such as proxy militias and soldiers without insignia, to attack the Donbas region, where 14,000 people have died since 2014. On February 22, in the days before Putin launched a full-fledged war on Ukraine, he sent Russian troops into Donbas and declared two provinces there independent.
This time, according to former State Department Russia specialist Michael Kimmage, Putin miscalculated the difficulty of taking over Ukraine. Still, as the days go on, this war could escalate to unimaginable levels of violence. “If Putin really is feeling very threatened, it’s possible that he will dig in his heels, double down and take a lot of risks in order to prevent any potential loss of power,” said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former intelligence officer who’s now a senior fellow and director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.
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